Preparing your perennials and evergreens for the winter doesn’t have to be as daunting or intense as you may think. In fact, just a few best practices can keep these plants healthy throughout the colder months and increase their longevity from year to year.
Even when plants are actively growing in the winter, they still need some moisture. Unfortunately, when the ground freezes there is a major lack. So before the ground freezes in the fall or winter, it’s important to water plants and evergreens well. If the ground freezes late, continue to water the plants so they have as much moisture as possible in the soil for the winter.
While you will want to add water to your gardens before winter, it’s not advantageous to add fertilizer. The chemicals in fertilizer promote growth. However, freezing temperatures, ice and snow can damage the growing plants’ flowers, stems and leaves. As a rule of thumb, fertilizer shouldn’t be added to plants or evergreens past late August.
Also before winter hits, you should clean up any debris like stems, branches and leaves. Leaving these things in your garden could cause more insects and disease that will feed on your plants throughout the winter and next season. After you get rid of the unwanted debris, its time to add mulch.
Mulching before the soil freezes will help the ground maintain moisture and a constant temperature. Soil that is susceptible, without mulch, will freeze and thaw repeatedly throughout the winter. This can damage roots potentially even uprooting whole plants or evergreens. Compost, straw and peat moss are all appropriate alternatives if you don’t want to use mulch.
Taking note and performing these best practices, will keep your plants and evergreens healthy throughout the winter. It will also help them come back to life in the spring with less damage from the climate and elements. Cleaning your garden beds, moisturizing them with ample water and giving them an extra layer of protection like mulch will do wonders for individual plants and gardens as a whole.